LZendaya has defended her TV show Euphoria amid claims the series glorifies teen drug use.
In January, representatives at the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) group told TMZ that the show “chooses to misguidedly glorify and erroneously depict high school student drug use” and addiction.
Zendaya, who plays drug addict Rue Bennett on the show, has responded to the criticism in an interview with Entertainment Weekly.
“Our show is in no way a moral tale to teach people how to live their life or what they should be doing,” she said. “If anything, the feeling behind ‘Euphoria,’ or whatever we have always been trying to do with it, is to hopefully help people feel a little bit less alone in their experience and their pain. And maybe feel like they’re not the only one going through or dealing with what they’re dealing with.”
Zendaya added that she hopes viewers watching Rue’s downward spiral will make them “more understanding and empathetic” about addiction and what it does to addicts and their families.
She has already noticed the storyline resonating with audiences as she’s had many people from “all walks of life” reach out to her about it.
In the most recent episode, which aired on Sunday, Rue’s family and friends stage an intervention, and she runs around town, trying to find her next fix as she experiences withdrawal symptoms.
The 25-year-old, who executive produces the series along with rap star Drake, stated that the show won’t leave her character at rock bottom and, by the end of the season, viewers will feel hopeful that “there’s light at the end of the tunnel” for Rue.
Zendaya admitted shooting the episode was “intense and scary,” and she still has scars from the opening intervention scene.
“It was a very tough day. I mean, I beat myself up. I still have some scars on my legs and got quite a few bruises,” she shared.